YOUR NEW PUPPY
We can't teach you everything you'll need to know about puppy behavior and training here, but we can get you off to a good start. There are several important topics we discuss in order to set your puppy up for success: Socialization, Cues, and Boundaries.
One thing you've probably heard a lot about is the importance of socialization. Another thing you've probably heard is that you shouldn't take your puppy public until after they've had all their vaccinations. These two topics are important but separate. While we do not want your puppy at a dog park until they're older, it is important to continue socializing your puppy immediately.
A puppy should not be sequestered until it's fully vaccinated. It can and should be socialized, even before it's fully vaccinated. Contrary to popular belief, socialization for a puppy is not letting it run around with other dogs at the dog park or doggy daycare. It is the thoughtful introduction to as many new things as possible in a way that creates a positive experience. We start socialization at around 2 weeks old, as soon as they start toddling. It should continue as soon as they arrive in their new home. Socialization is most beneficial during the puppy's first 12 weeks, which is why waiting until after the pup has had all its shots (usually 16 weeks) is not a good idea!
Socialization takes some effort on the human part, but the payoff is a confident, well-adjusted dog that doesn't stress easily and is less likely to be reactive. Puppy socialization should involve:
Puppy socialization classes overseen by a canine behaviorist
Bringing around new people, or bringing your pup to someone else's house
Visiting a downtown café or other busy location
Walking through a garden center or visiting a pet-friendly store (ie., Joann Fabric, Ross, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.)
Taking different paths during your walks
Moving through parking garages and elevators
Maneuvering through crowds
Exposing the pup to new flooring, new foods, new noises, new rooms
During this time, don't shy away from letting strangers greet your pup. In fact, encourage it! We have conditioned your pup to perform a behavior (sit) for a treat, so bring treats with you everywhere you go and ask a stranger to give the pup a treat when it sits. The goal is a confident, social dog who seeks enrichment through positive behavior.
Here's a helpful video on How to Socialize a Puppy Before Vaccinations.